Advice and Counselling Service

Advice and Counselling Service menu

What are 'extenuating circumstances'?

What are 'extenuating circumstances'?

Under Queen Mary University of London’s regulations, extenuating circumstances are:

‘Circumstances that are outside a student’s control which may have a negative impact on a student’s ability to undertake or complete any assessment so as to cast doubt on the likely validity of the assessment as a measure of the student’s achievement’.

The ‘circumstances’ mentioned in the definition above are usually personal or health problems. However for the 2020/21 academic year, the definition of an extenuating circumstance has been temporarily expanded to recognise the effects of the pandemic on students’ ability to engage in assessment. Typically, an EC relates to a circumstance which is both ‘unforeseen and beyond a student’s control’. In 2020/21 students will also be able to submit an EC claim for circumstances outside their control arising from the long-term effects of the pandemic, without the requirement that it was unforeseen. For example, the categories of EC’s has been updated to ensure that account is taken of caring responsibilities, suitable study environments, and access to the necessary hardware/software so that these will also now be accepted as EC’s. Please see the ARCS website about 2020/21 changes to the ECs policy. 

Health problems include your emotional wellbeing and mental health, as well as your physical health. In relation to the usual grounds of claiming on the basis of personal or health problems, please note:

  • personal or health problems are only extenuating circumstances if they are outside your control
  • personal or health problems are only extenuating circumstances if they are likely to have a negative impact on your ability to undertake or complete academic assessments such as exams or coursework
  • Ongoing personal or health problems on their own are not extenuating circumstances. See the section What if I have ongoing health or other problems? later in this guide
  • academic workload issues are not extenuating circumstances
  • employment commitments are not extenuating circumstances
  • observance of a religious festival or holy day is not an extenuating circumstance. You should plan your work to take into account participation in religious services and other forms of observance. As coursework deadlines are set in advance, if the deadline coincides with religious commitments you should be prepared to submit your work before the coursework deadline. Students wishing to notify the university of any religious reasons which may affect their ability to sit examinations on specific dates should complete the religious holiday exemption form available from your academic school office. There will be a deadline for this, so check with your Student Support Officer.

Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

Return to top